Visa between cultural differences

Thứ Năm, 26 Tháng Bảy 201200:00(Xem: 35247)
Visa between cultural differences

I went to the US Consulate General this morning to get some more pages added to my passport. This service used to be free but now costs $82. However, it’s much faster now because they have an appointment system at the American Citizen Services section. Even the cashier at ACS knew my name, so I felt at home there. It was a very brief, pleasant experience.
Although I was at the Consulate for only ten minutes, in that short time I got the feeling of being in American territory. And that reminded me of the vast differences between the American and Vietnamese cultures. Unfortunately, these cultural or social differences are sometimes the cause of visa applications being denied.
In fiancée and marriage cases, some consular officers understand the cultural differences and can accept them without being judgmental, so they are able to determine and approve cases with genuine relationships. Other officers are intellectually aware of the differences but emotionally they tend to view the world from a perspective of “us and them”, or “us versus them”, meaning that for them, cultural and social differences tend to create suspicion. This attitude caused one supervisor at the Consulate to advise consuls to assume from the start of the interview that all cases are suspect. The applicants are required to convince the consul that the relationship is genuine.
A recent internet article reported on the Vietnamese custom of hiring ladyboys to entertain the guests at funeral gatherings. These performers sing and tell jokes in order to take the family’s mind off the passing of the loved one. This has nothing to do with visa applications but it does offer a very good example of a cultural difference that some consular officers would never accept.
And according to some consular officers, it is equally unacceptable for couples to have a relationship which lacks a lateral orderliness. The consul is suspicious if the timeline does not show a progression from courtship to engagement to traditional marriage to wedding reception to marriage registration to childbearing. Any variation in this sequence sends up red flags for some interview officers.
Consular officers are taught that cultural norms in Vietnam require a lengthy courtship and elaborate engagement and wedding celebrations attended by family members both in Vietnam and coming from abroad. And, there must also be frequent visits to Vietnam by the sponsor. Any exception to these norms makes some consuls suspicious.
Unfortunately, not everyone can live up to the American expectations of a relationship. Some couples simply do not follow the norms that the consulate expects, but this does not mean they are any less genuine or any less committed to their relationship.
While waiting for a case to be processed, the couple may experience long periods of separation for economic or other reasons. Even after the spouse arrives in the US, they might have to be separated if one of them needs to live elsewhere in order to earn a living.
The American society is a “couple-front” society, meaning that the couple is expected to be together all the time, at home or in public, and that ideally there are no secrets between a couple. When visa applicants come from Asian societies that differ from the American norm, some consuls automatically become suspicious.
The final obstacle to getting a visa in Vietnam is the fact that there is a lot of attempted fraud in marriage and fiancée cases. Some families are very eager to get their daughter married to an American citizen. 
Does marriage fraud exist in American society? I guess it depends on how you define “fraud”. Certainly some marriages in America and most other countries are motivated by financial considerations, so maybe this is universal.
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Q.1. If we assume that consuls are suspicious of relationships that do not follow certain norms, what can be done to improve chances of a successful interview?
A.1. The visa applicant should always be ready to explain why things did not happen exactly as the consul might expect. To do this, the applicant must be made aware of what points could cause the consul to become suspicious. What is perfectly normal to the applicant may be seen as “abnormal” by the consular officer.
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Q.2. A frequent reason for denial of a spouse or fiancée case is that the applicant was not able to describe the place where the sponsor lives. Isn’t it unreasonable to expect someone to describe a place where she has never been?
A.2. It may unreasonable and it may just be an easy way for the consul to deny a case when he is suspicious. The solution is for the sponsor to make sure the applicant knows everything about where he lives, where he works, what he does in his free time, the names of his friends, and so on.
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